250195 Struggling to Maintain Aging Services in Tightened Public Budgets

Monday, October 31, 2011

Patricia M. Alt, PhD , Health Science Department, Towson University, Towson, MD
In difficult economic times, American state and local governments are reorganizing and downsizing many programs, in hopes of saving significant amounts of money without unduly harming citizens' health and well-being. Even some foundation funding has shrunk in the face of economic difficulties. Community-level services for older adults depend on a mix of public and private funding, and are quite vulnerable to financial pressures. This presentation examines decisions made during the past two years which affect the provision of publicly-funded services for older Americans, and the pressures involved in that process. It focuses particularly on local and state health and aging agencies and the reorganization and redistribution of their tasks. Information from the National Council of State Legislatures, media/newspaper coverage, and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging will be used to describe the efforts to redesign the provision of aging services, with particular attention paid to the public's response to proposed changes. With the Baby Boomers' reluctance to admit that they might need aging services (except possibly for their parents), and the media's focus on “greedy geezers” demanding that their Medicare and Social Security benefits stay intact, how can essential community based services for older Americans be maintained?

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the policy choices made by state/local governments in reorganizing services provided to older adults. 2. Analyze the pressures influencing those policy choices, including media coverage and the level of public interest in the situation.

Keywords: Aging, Public Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have done the research entirely myself, and have been involved in aging policy at the state level for over twenty years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.